As La Quinta probate attorneys, we have many clients with children in high school or college. In the wake of graduation season, it is important to note that even 18 year olds needs some type of estate planning. We recommend the unconventional graduation gift this year: a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive.
The minute your child turns 18 he is considered an adult in the eyes of the laws of California. The problem for parents is that this means they no longer have unfettered access to financial and health records. Most parents are surprised by this realization and often shocked at the legal barriers imposed once their child reaches the magical age of majority.
What happens if your child has a medical emergency during his first semester at college 2,000 miles away? Without a signed Advance Health Care Directive you will not have any access to information regarding your child’s medical condition and have no legal authority to make any health care decisions. This can be devastating for any parent but especially so for the parent of a child with a medical emergency.
Another important document is the Durable Power of Attorney. This allows a parent to act on a child’s behalf regarding financial decisions and any contracts. During your child’s semester studying abroad, who will deal with issues on the car he left behind? Or signing a lease for a new apartment when he gets back home? The Durable Power of Attorney gives the parent, as the nominated agent, the power to act the child’s behalf.